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Snooth User: jneller31

Lost and Thirsty in Romania

Posted by jneller31, Oct 2, 2011.

New to the site as well as my surroundings here in Romania. I am a professional basketball player from America and part time wine "taster". I live an hour outside of Bucharest and I was hoping someone could recommend a great wine from the region. I'm not a wine expert so any suggestions are greatly appreciated, I don't even know where to look for a good selection of wine in this country......all I have seen are a few bottles here and there at a grocery store.

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Replies

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Reply by 1 jayjay, Oct 2, 2011.

jneller

sorry i cant help but i would suggest you try to get to know the locals and drink the same as them

they should know best

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 2, 2011.

At least if the wine is any good.  But lots of Californians drink junk, and, on that theory, the best restaurant in SF's Chinatown (most Chinese in it every day) is McDonald's.

But this is your chance to become the expert! By the end of your first day of tasting, you will know more than any of us.

Do a few web searches, get a copy of "The Wine Lover's Companion," because you or a friend can carry it in a large pocket or small bag without being obvious, and it covers pretty much every region of the world and the vast majority of useful varieties.  According to my copy of the older edition, Romania is one of the top ten producers of wine in the world, but almost none of it reaches the west. Also says whites are better than reds, but that could have changed.  Sounds like they have some local favorites in the Fateasca family, which makes whites and reds.  (Hungary makes whites with it under a different name, so it's had some success.)  Of course, they grow international varieties, cab and the like. Maybe it's going to be the next Chile, or New Zealand.

My guess is they have a wine industry group now, and if you can make a connection, you might have an interesting career after this interesting career is over.  Good luck, and write lots of stuff here about Romanian wine.  I, for one, am interested to learn more.

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 2, 2011.

Welcome jneller.

Haven't had too much Romanian wine, nor spent much of any time in Romania. One impression I have received is the wines are getting better over the past decade or so than they were back in the '70s and '80s when I first sampled them. Wine didn't always reach its potential under Soviet Bloc regimes.

The most Romanian wine I was having back then started as wine must packaged in enameled oil drums and imported into Japan by trading companies as 'juice' which was then sold to winemakers in Katsunuma west of Tokyo (where most of Japan's wine has historically been made) together with yeast and instructions ('add warm water, churn and let sit...') on how to put together some quick tons of plonk that could be 'made in Katsunuma'. The must made economic sense back then because import taxes were minimal, as opposed to the case for finished wine where duties were 100% of all costs (CIF) before arrival in Japan. Fortunately that draconian duties scheme was done away with starting in the late '80s.

One thing you might do on the ground is start paying attention to the regions in Romania, and tasting wines from each. The areas I'm aware of are Tarnave, Cotnari, Murfatlar and Dealu Mare. Tarnave's north of Transylvania and  produces a range of white wives I've seen and sometimes tasted that are either from more 'local' grapes or from those we hear more often about (e.g. feteasca vs. riesling, pinot gris and sauvignon blanc). Cotnari's in Moldavia, and again I've only seen whites from there, mostly local varietals. Murfatlar's near the Black Sea and gets more sun and I've seen a wider range of reds and whites, mostly from varietals we're familiar with like chardonnay, pinot gris, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and the local black feteasca. Dealu Mare is at the base of the Carpathians and I've only seen red wines from there, such as again cab, merlot and the same black feteasca.

Another thing you might do is try comparisons between wines made from traditional Romanian grapes, and those made from other well known varietals transplanted from western Europe. If there's a certain white (pinot blanc, riesling, SB, muscat) or red (cab sauv, merlot, pinot noir) varietal you're already familiar with you could start drinking the Romanian versions and see what you think. Then you could start on the white and black feteasca and some of the less common locals like zghihara, cramposia, galbena, babeasca or tamaioasa. Then drink the different grapes next to each other.

Mainly, though, just start buying and tasting and remember what you tried that you liked, and that you didn't like. Keeping notes could make this process easier.

As Foxall mentioned, we'd love to hear your reactions, here, to what you do try. I haven't had any in awhile, and would enjoy hearing where Romanian wines are these days. I don't think I've had any for five years, though there was a period before that when I was traveling all over Europe and the Mediterranean and would encounter them from time to time. In Tokyo it hardly seems worth the effort to chase them down since there are so many other wines from regions in other countries that I've yet to try. But maybe you'll persuade me otherwise.... ;-)

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Reply by Rhonda Rice, Oct 3, 2011.

Well you are in luck. I am an American. I lived in Cluj for the past two years and I am familiar with some of the wines like Jidvei and Prahova Valley Reserve wines. By the way, it is said that Romania is the 6th largest wine producer in Europe and the 9th in the world.  Try Bruno Wine & Coffee Shop- Covaci 3 (Centrul Istoric), Bucuresti. There's one in Cluj. Quite nice and it seems the one in Bucharest is same ownership. Check out some of the menu selection here which includes Romanian wines http://www.brunowine.ro/menu.php. You can find Jidvei, from Tarnave wine region, pretty much all around. And there is Murfatlar near Constanta at the black sea.   Hope that helps. Noroc!  Twitter: @shegeek

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Reply by Marcel Farcas, Oct 3, 2011.

Hi jneller!

I think your best chance is: http://www.marketyourwine.com/ Alfred Binder is the owner of this company and he runs wine courses in Bucharest.

Have fun!

Marcel

 

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Reply by ScottLauraH, Oct 3, 2011.

I just want to echo the others that asked you to please share your experiences and reactions with us.  I have never had Romanian wine, and until I read this thread, had never thought about whether or not they produced wine. 

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Reply by jneller31, Oct 4, 2011.

Wow thanks everyone! Great stuff, I will be sure to start exploring and let you all know how it goes. Thanks again.

 

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 4, 2011.

Good reccs from Rhonda and Marcel. Looks like plenty to gain from Bruno, though more if your Romanian is up to snuff. Binder's wine course is something I'd definitely check out....

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 4, 2011.

Extra points to jneller for posting--but don't stop now!  You've got us all waiting for more.

And even more points for getting Rhonda on board.  I hope Rhonda will post more on Romanian wine as well.  We have posters who know about Bordeaux, the Rhone, Spain, Italy, and all kinds of things, but Romania is wide open territory. 

Maybe we'll get some bottles in the mail from Romania.  Whattaya say, GdP, a virtual tasting from the former Eastern bloc?  Definitely more exotic than Chile or NZ.

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Reply by ScottLauraH, Oct 5, 2011.

I like the way you think Foxall!

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Reply by jneller31, Oct 5, 2011.

Ok first two bottles of wine from Romania. I chose from the suggestions of my teammates. I bought a cheap bottle of feteasca neagra. Extremely drinkable wine. It was a little dry but sweet as well. I was surprised it was 14.5% because it was smooth and the aftertaste had hints of (after I looked it up because i couldn't pick it out) plums,honey, and spice. I thought this would be a good night/hang out wine since I am going to be here a while. I really enjoyed the wine but I wasn't blown away until i thought about how much it cost. The bottle was the equivalent of 3 dollars! Great price but I think the other bottle I grabbed will be a little better.......Lacrima Lui Ovidiu 5 is described as a sweet white wine great for after dinner with desert or fine cheese. I am excited to open this chilled bottle up because it is still pretty hot out here, hahaha. Well anyways, I am not the greatest with my descriptions but I will keep in touch with my experiences here.

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Reply by Whitey Broughman, Oct 5, 2011.

Neighboring Moldova is the former wine growing region of the old Soviet Union. As such, if you shop carefully, you can find the best wine in the world. My wife is Moldovan and we visit there regularly and have also seen a little of Romania. Try some of the farmer wines made locally in basements. It doesn't have a vintage because it's pretty much gone by year's end, but some of it is so good as to be beyond proper description. And it is VERY cheap. Stop on the side of the road and buy it in recycled Pepsi 2 litre bottles from the farmer who produced it. Tell them you are American, they LOVE Americans there.

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Reply by EMark, Oct 5, 2011.

I thiught your description was very good, jneller.  Love the price.  Keep the reports coming.

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 5, 2011.

Yeah, will look forward to hearing more. Any more reccs from your teammates?

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Reply by JonDerry, Oct 5, 2011.

Can't speak for Romanian wine, but if your local wine shops or general stores get any nearby imports, like from nighboring country Hungary, i'd certainly look in to trying those wines.  If you like dry red wine (Bordeaux blends) try some wines from Villany (southern tip of Hungary), Eger is also a solid region.  If you like sweet wine, make sure to try some Tokaji Aszu. 

Austria's another interesting region to explore, as well as Germany (specializing in sweet wines).  If you have access to French wine, it gets pretty far ranging.

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Reply by dmcker, Oct 5, 2011.

Germany has lots of good wine, much of it not sweet. It continues to surprise me how little their wines are discussed on Snooth.

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Reply by JonDerry, Oct 5, 2011.

Re: German wines, what might you attribute this to D?

It seems there's limited availability here in the States, and the German's do tend to drink a lot of their own production. 

Other than that, and at the risk of stating the obvious we know the collectible market is dominated by French wine and with this site being US based, and with GDP having an affinity for Piedmont, I guess it all adds up.

Limited space for regions like Germany, Portugal, Hungary, and even here in CA i've seen you call out for some more Temecula. 

I have to say Alsace is a region i've been intruiged by as of late...what are some of your favorite regions for dry German wine in Germany?

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Reply by jneller31, Oct 8, 2011.

Hey from Romania! Quick story.....we won our home basketball game and went to some restaurant in Giurgiu called Rustic. I ordered some red wine for dinner and asked the owner what the name of the wine was so I could find out more about it. Turns out they make their own homemade wine and it was awesome. I loved it and told the owner.....he gave me 5 liters to take home!!!!! hahaha so since he gave me free wine I figured I might as well promote his restaurant. The wine was served slightly chilled and was fresh and crisp. I would consider it on the sweeter side and i think that is why they served it chilled. It had a little tang aftertaste that I can only speculate was maybe a citrus component or other fruit besides grapes.Overall I can't complain I got a bunch of free wine native to the country. Love all the comments everyone has been leaving for me.

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Reply by JonDerry, Oct 8, 2011.

Good report JN, and good on the restaurant owner for giving you a bunch to take home. Make sure to serve it slightly chilled as he did, makes a big difference!

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Oct 8, 2011.

So it's pretty unusual for a red to taste citrusy, although whites taste like grapefruit and lemon all the time, so good guess about that--a lot of times when a populace is new to a beverage, the first step is that they add other fruits until people are more comfortable with hoppy beer or dry wine.  5 liters is more free wine than I get in a year, so kudos on that.  Of course, this isn't going to be a wine we can get back here in the states, or in Tokyo or London or any other place Snoothers are.  Let us know about the stuff that actually comes in bottles with labels, eh?

Keep up with the updates--this is going to be fun for all of us.  And congrats on winning the game.  Looks like I'll have to follow Romanian basketball if the owners and players in the NBA can't get it together soon! No heros in that one, but I mostly side with the players, just because the owners 1) don't have short careers and 2) aren't being very forthcoming about their actual economic situation.  I'm a former season ticket holder and getting fed up with the whole thing but I like the work-a-day guys who go overseas and live the dream a little longer. Sometimes they come back and have great NBA careers a la Mario Elie.

If you learn the language (sounds like you are communicating pretty effectively already) and make some friends (no doubt you are doing that) I predict that you will be the impresario of Romanian wine in a few years.  Maybe not as remunerative as an NBA career, but one you can have for a long time and that will be endlessly fascinating.  And the stories you will have to tell will be a lot more interesting than the ones that isolated pro athletes in the US often have. 

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